4 min read


Can Dogs Sense Benevolence?



4 min read


Can Dogs Sense Benevolence?


Dogs are fascinating creatures that make life that much better for the rest of us. They are not only incredibly intuitive and wonderful companions, but they are pretty good judges of character, too. In fact, research shows that dogs can actually feel benevolence and tell the difference between a 'good' and 'bad' person. 

This is just one of the things that makes them such incredible partners for humans. Dogs aren't just our pets, they are our friends and protectors. So, how can you tell how a dog feels about a particular person? There's a good chance all you have to do is look at their body language to know what is going through their minds. 


Signs Your Dog Can Sense Benevolence

Being a good judge of character is important for dogs in many different settings, both domestic and in the wild. They must be able to rely on their instincts to know whether another animal is a friend or a foe, and the same goes for those that have been domesticated. Thankfully, dogs do have the ability to tell if someone is good or if they intend to cause them harm. 

Dogs feed off of the energy of those around them. So, when you notice your dog is relaxed and carefree, or happy and wagging their tale, there's a good chance they are feeling the love. When someone walks into the room or their environment that does not carry a good energy with them,  your dog will know and react accordingly. This is why it is so important to pay attention to your dog's behavior and make note of any changes. 

When someone is kind to them or they can sense they are a benevolent person, your dog may start wagging their tail, 'smile' at you, give you lots of slobbery kisses, and follow you around everywhere you go. These are just a few of the ways they show you that they know how much you love them! 

Body Language

Here are a few signs that your dog can sense benevolence:

  • Listening
  • Wag Tail
  • Whimpering
  • Paw Raised

Other Signs

These are additional signs that will let you know your dog can sense kindness:

  • They Are Relaxed
  • They Feel Comfortable With You
  • Urine Sprinkling From Excitement

History Behind Dogs Sensing Benevolence


Dogs are descendants of wolves, who just happen to be the first animals humans ever domesticated. Thousands of years ago, humans and wolves roamed the world separate from one another, but over time that has changed significantly. Today, dogs are a vital part of our lives and are our most cherished companions. If you own a dog, you know what this love feels like and what an incredible bond it is. 

Understanding where they came from is important because it gives us more insight as to how they perceive people and different situations today. Dogs have evolved in an incredible way, today standing as some of the most accommodating, loving animals there are. Dogs have gotten very good at reading humans - from their body language to tone of voice - which helps them determine whether someone means harm or kindness. 

But dogs don't just rely on sight to determine what kind of a person you are. In actuality, their sense of smell - their primary sense - is how they pick up on cues from humans. 

Science Behind Dogs Sensing Benevolence


Dogs use their sense of smell for, well, everything. They can sense fear, anxiety, happiness, anger, kindness, and benevolence. They do this by reading a human's scent. Once they give you a good whiff, they will likely display some reaction, such as barking or wagging their tail. It is important to note that dogs are usually picking up on the person's current emotion they are displaying, so their reaction is not necessarily a judgement about a person's overall character. 

Dogs are very intelligent and often look to their owners for reassurance or more information. For example, if you find yourself in a situation where you are scared or see someone as a threat, your dog will pick up on it. This goes for the opposite, too. Meaning, your dog has the ability to understand who the people are that you love. 

In addition to scent, dogs rely on behavioral cues from humans - both strangers and those who are familiar to them. People who act a certain way that your dog us not used to may make your dog nervous, whereas those who display similar mannerisms to yours put them at ease.

Training Your Dog to Sense Benevolence


Intuition is not something you can train, but there are ways you can help your dog understand when someone is good and only has kindness to offer. Dogs can read a person's behavior and will demonstrate certain behaviors themselves based on what they pick up on. This is why it is indeed possible for you to teach your dog to respond a certain way to those that give them love. 

Dogs learn by association and repetition. If you are trying to teach your dog to behave in a certain way when they come across someone who is kind and loving, start by showing them what this emotion looks like and rewarding them. Over time - and with a whole lot of patience - you will have a dog on your hands that knows a good person when they see one!  

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Written by a Chihuahua lover Allie Wall

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 06/10/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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